Pope Francis advises nuns to limit use of social media which could ruin their 'contemplative world' with 'noise, news, and words'
Although the document does not forbid the use of social media, nuns should spend less time on Twitter and other social media platforms to avoid ruining their "contemplative world"
The Vatican has instructed nuns to communicate more with God and spend less time on social media. Too much tweeting and downloading news intrudes on a life of prayer and contemplation, The Holy See told the 38,000 cloistered nuns that belong to the Catholic Church.
A document titled "Cor Orans", Latin for "Praying Heart" gives instructions and sets guidelines on how to apply Pope Francis’s 2016 Apostolic Constitution.
Although the document does not forbid the use of social media, it urges nuns to use it in moderation. Otherwise, it offers guidelines on the legal, administrative and spiritual aspects of life in monasteries. There is a chapter titled "Separation from the World" which describes how the Church aims to preserve "recollection and silence" with its rules on the use of "social communication."
The document warns that “it is possible to empty contemplative silence when the cloister is filled with noises, news, and words.”
The pontiff took the opportunity to regulate the nuns' tweeting antics via the church document titled Vultum Dei Quaerere ('Seeking the Face of God'). "In our society, the digital culture has a decisive influence in shaping our thoughts and the way we relate to the world and, in particular, to other people. Contemplative communities are not immune from this cultural climate. Clearly, these media can prove helpful for formation and communication," he said.
He added: "At the same time, I urge a prudent discernment aimed at ensuring that they remain truly at the service of formation to contemplative life and necessary communication, and do not become occasions for wasting time or escaping from the demands of fraternal life in community. Nor should they prove harmful for your vocation or become an obstacle to your life wholly dedicated to contemplation."
The Vatican News reported that the Cor Orans was presented by Catholic Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the Congressional for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and by the undersecretary of the same Congregation, Father Sebastiano Paciolla, during a press conference on Tuesday.
He said it aims to “clarify the provisions of the law, developing and determining the procedures for its execution.”
The said document intends to replace a previous rulebook released in 1999 after consultation with nuns in monasteries who were asked what they required in order to live a better vocation.
Carballo said: “We copied what arrived from the nuns,” adding that the document’s aim was to bring together “a desire for renovation with the protection and safeguarding of the pillars of contemplative life."
According to The Guardian, the document produced by the Vatican's office of religious life said that while nuns are allowed to use social media and stay up to date with news on the Internet, they must do so with "discretion and sobriety."
"Recollection and silence are of great importance for the contemplative life as 'the necessary space for listening and pondering His Word and the prerequisite for that gaze of faith that enables us to welcome God's presence in our own life and in that of the sisters [...] and in the events of today's world," Chapter 3 of the document said, provided in English by Vatican News.
Allegedly, the guidelines were presented three weeks after a group of nuns in Spain protested on Facebook following the acquittal of five men accused of the gang-rape of a teenager during the Pamplona bull-running festival in 2016. Instead, the court found them guilty of a relatively minor offense of sexual abuse.
"We live in cloister, we wear a habit that goes almost to our ankles, we don't go out at night [unless it's for a (medical) emergency], we don't go to parties, we don’t consume alcohol, and we've made a vow of chastity," the nuns said on Facebook April 26.
"[Ours] is an option that doesn't make us better or worse than anyone, even if, paradoxically, it makes us freer and happier than most. And because it's a free choice, we defend with all the means available to us [this is one of them] the right of all women to freely say no without being judged, raped, intimidated, murdered or humiliated for it. Sister, I do believe you," the post continued, reported The Guardian.
According to The Guardian, the post went viral with over 14,000 likes and more than 15,000 shares.